Blended or Personalised Learning involves an educational environment and curriculum that places each individual student’s needs and abilities at the core. The educational experience is made to measure around each and every student.
This approach to education includes three main components:
- Face to face teaching and learning
- Online interactive courses
- Online tutor
Why does this type of customised learning work?
The learning process is non-linear; in other words, teachers cannot expect all the students in their classroom to learn in the exact same way or at the exact same pace. However, educational technology exists to allow individualised learning. Students can work through the curriculum at their own pace and develop a deeper level of knowledge and understanding as the learning process is customised to them as unique learners. This is supported by teachers who act as mentors who guide and facilitate their academic development, monitor their progress, and support the needs of the students as those needs arise. They also provide feedback to students and parents continuously, so parents and their children will always know how well they are doing. It is not just screen time. Personalised learning utilises an online learning element that is enhanced through one-to-one, small group, and project-based learning. Every child is unique, and education should be customised around their needs. Technology now allows us to do this.
Here is the biggest difference from a traditional school. Instead of sitting in the same class as the other students doing the exact same thing, students study their own individual pathways. At the beginning of the course, a teacher is assigned specifically for each student. This teacher meets with the students and the parents at the start of the course and sets out goals. A personalised pathway is created with a specific timeline leading to the exams. Exams are taken either in the Spring or the Summer of each academic year, decided by the needs of the student.
Depending on the subject, the content of each course is delivered either through an online programme or working through physical materials. These materials are provided by third-party partners who are highly experienced in this area. In order to offer as many different subjects as possible, a variety of providers are utilised. Each student is given a timetable so that the order of the subjects is structured, as they would be done in a regular school. The students then know exactly when to study a particular subject and for how long, tracked from the start date to the final exam date.
Vacations can be freely organised by families, as the school year is continuous, and learning can also continue even if the student is not present at school.
As they study, they are always monitored and supported by subject specialists who will be there to guide the students and make sure that any potential issues with understanding are addressed immediately so that progress is always maintained. The level of personal care and attention to each student is never compromised as the programme is moulded around them, not the other way around. Reporting of progress is continuous, so the student and parents are always aware of how well the student is advancing.
Personalised learning has the following advantages:
- Flexible – students can study around other commitments such as sports, work, and unique talents. This suits talented students who need to study around other commitments such as musicians, actors, and athletes.
- Learning is not restricted to the traditional school timetable. The traditional school calendar is not being followed, so the learning is continuous and flexible around any family’s travel plans.
- The day begins later in the morning, which has been proven to have a substantial positive impact on academic performance. We know the sleeping pattern of teenagers, and it is being accommodated in this type of programme.
- Each student is on a specific plan that is tailored around them.
- One-to-one and small group tuition is provided by tutors who are subject specialists.
- Study skills are taught in-house as well as metacognitive skills to support students in reaching their academic potential.
- Academic and personal, social and emotional support is provided by experts in house.
- Students learn skills that go beyond academia and will help them in the future.
What are the outcomes?
“In studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective.”
US Dept of Education
The outcome is precisely the same as a traditional school in terms of exam qualifications. However, the individualised bespoke approach to education means that results are typically higher than conventional schooling.
College guidance is provided to ensure entry into further education.
Personalised learning empowers students to take responsibility in deciding their own learning process. This teaches the students vital skills that will serve them throughout their lives, for example:
- Sharing in goal-setting helps students develop motivation and reliability.
- Engaging in self-assessment helps students develop self-reflective abilities to know what they need to do to improve.
- Determining their best learning activities helps students develop self-advocacy skills for speaking up and communicating their ideas.
Kamran Baig is from the United Kingdom and has been an international educator for well over 20 years. He qualified as a science teacher in the UK in 1997 and has worked in international schools in Japan, the UK, and Switzerland. He has served roles as a teacher, head of department, curriculum coordinator, principal, and school director. He is passionate about the power of education to transform the lives of children. Kamran’s experience and knowledge have led to roles as an international school teacher trainer and school inspector. He believes in the power of technology to create personal learning pathways to ignite the potential of each and every student, in a way that has not been possible until now.